Writing the Final Report


The key to a good DBF report is to address everything in the rubric. The rubric can be found in the rules on the DBF website for each year. In general, our LaTeX template should cover all of the formatting requirements automatically. For the past several years, the point breakdown and key items for each section has been as follows:

  1. Executive Summary (5 Points)
    • Maximum of 1 page. If exceeded, score as 0 points
    • Summary description of selected design and why it best meets the mission requirements
    • Main points from subsequent sections
    • Document the performance/capabilities of your system solution
  2. Management Summary (5 Points)
    • Describe the organization of the design team
    • Chart of design personnel and assignments areas
    • Milestone chart showing planned and actual timing of major elements
  3. Conceptual Design (15 Points)
    • Describes mission requirements (problem statement)
    • Translate mission requirements into sub system design requirements
    • Present a scoring sensitivity analysis.
    • Review solution concepts/configurations considered
    • Describe concept weighting and selection process and results
  4. Preliminary Design (20 Points)
    • Describe design/analysis methodology
    • Document design/sizing trades
    • Describe/document methodology for prediction of aircraft performance (include capabilities and uncertainties)
    • Provide estimates of the aircraft lift, drag and stability characteristics and method of prediction
    • Provide estimates of the aircraft mission performance
  5. Detail Design (15 Points + 15 Points for Drawing Package)
    • Document dimensional parameters of final design
    • Document structural characteristics/capabilities of final design
    • Document systems and sub-systems selection/integration/architecture
    • Document Weight and Balance for final design
    • Must include Weight & Balance table empty and with each possible payload/configuration
    • Document flight performance parameters for final design
    • Document mission performance for final design
    • Drawing package:
    • 3-View drawing with dimensions of all configurations
    • Structural arrangement drawing
    • Systems layout/location drawing
    • Payload(s) accommodation drawing(s)
  6. Manufacturing Plan (5 Points)
    • Document the process selected for major component manufacture
    • Manufacturing processes investigated and selection process and results
    • Manufacturing milestones chart: plan and actual
  7. Testing Plan (5 points)
    • Describe all major ground and flight tests performed.
    • Objectives and schedule for each.
    • Data to be collected and how applied.
    • Test and flight check lists
  8. Performance Results (10 Points)
    • Describe the demonstrated performance of key subsystems following execution of testing plan
    • Compare to predictions and explain any differences and improvements made
    • Describe the demonstrated performance of your complete aircraft solution
    • Compare to predictions and explain any differences and improvements made
  9. Bibliography (5 Points)
    • List of all published works referenced in the text must be present in this section.
    • Any material taken from a published source in all previous sections must have a numerical subscript corresponding to the appropriate citation in this section.
    • References should appear in numerical order.
    • Format should match AIAA provided guidelines: https://www.aiaa.org/publications/journals/reference-style-and-format

When to start

In reality, you should be able to start before the rules are published for the year. How so? Each team member should read the top proposals and winning reports for at least the previous year. These are published on the AIAA DBF website. The proposals are only 5 pages each, so they can be read quickly (there’s definitly enough time before the rules get published to read them). The winning reports are longer, and may take a while to read. Despite the time investment, it will be very worth the effort (especially for new team members) to get a feel for the quality and quantity of information that you need to be including in the Final Report. Reading winning reports can also give new team members an idea of the kinds of analyses and tests you might consider doing this year. As you read the winning reports from previous years, make sure to refer back to the rubric. You’ll be able to see what each of the subsections in the scoring mean in a real report.

You should start writing the Final Report at the same time that you start the Proposal, within a few days of receiving the rules for the year. There is content in the Proposal that also gets included almost identically in the Final Report, so these should be done at the same time. In addition, there is content in the Final Report that does not appear in the Proposal, but is done as part of the proposal writing process (for example, assembling decision matricies as explained in the Conceptual Design page). In some cases, it might be easier to write the extended version for the Final Report first, and then trim down for the Proposal to get within the page limit.

Each team member should be writing down just about everything they do as part of the Design Build Fly process. Each member’s “engineering journal” for the project will supply the content needed for the Final Report. Said content should be gathered and assimilated as you go, not just at the very end. Good times to make sure everything is getting upated properly are during internal design reviews. As part of the preparation for reviews, the Final Report should be updated, reviewed, and revised before being submitted to the advisor for review. Then revisions should be made based on the advisor’s feedback before moving on to the next phase. If the writing is kept up to date as you go, you’ll have no problem submitting a winning report before the due date.